Abbotsford Says No To Homeless Housing
By Jesse Wegenast. Today, Mayor and Council decided that things should stay exactly the same for the homeless in Abbotsford.
They have, after careful consideration, decided that the unfounded and irrational fears of a few individuals ought to trump the City’s responsibility to care for its most vulnerable citizens. The bold decision that not a damn thing should change is indicative of the lack of concern shown time and time again in dealing with the least of these.
The Face Of Abbotsford’s Homeless. Abbotsford citizen Nick Zurowski. Bas Stevens Photo
Of course, not all members of Council are culpable in the tragic outcome of today’s vote. Councilor Loewen gave a very personal and impassioned plea that his colleagues vote in favour of rezoning. Councilor Ross spoke eloquently and with resolve in support of the project, and Councilor Gill voiced his support as well. And, true to form, Councilor Braun’s speech in support was both well articulated and informed as he stared across the aisle at Councilors Smith, Barkman, and MacGregor, all of whom had already spoken out against the proposal.
In the end, though the deciding vote was cast by Mayor Banman. With the absence of Councilor Gibson, who is serving with the provincial government in Victoria, there are only seven voting members of Council. Votes from the Councilors tallied 4 in favour and 3 opposed. However, Mayor Banman cast his vote against the wishes of the majority of the Councilors. By voting in opposition to rezoning, the proposal died on the table, leaving many in the auditorium defeated, dejected, and dismayed.
And so, things remain the same.
Given the extremely public flogging that Abbotsford has rightfully received locally, regionally, and internationally for its treatment of its homeless citizens, one may have thought that this Mayor and Council might jump on the opportunity to change the headline.
But alas, fear has won the day.
Our Mayor and Council have shouted a resounding “No” to provincial government money. The millions of dollars that the Mayor has been asking for from the province to help address issues related to homelessness went the way of the dodo bird with the raising of a hand.
So here we sit. Not a thing has changed regarding the practices of the City towards the homeless since the chicken shit dump.
Jesse Wegenast is a Pastor with The 5 and 2 Ministries, which is devoted to ministering to and helping the homeless in Abbotsford.